Rwanda National Police (RNP) and Rwanda Investigation Unit (RIB), in partnership with other institutions, have seized assorted illegal, substandard, expired and illicit goods from traders, worth over Frw91 million.
The goods were seized in the operations dubbed “Usalama VII” conducted between September 7 and October 1, across the country. The goods were showed to the media at RIB Headquarters in Kimihurura, Gasabo District on Monday, October 4.
The impounded products include assorted Illicit brew, liquors, outlawed cosmetics and non-biodegradable polythene bags, counterfeits, substandard food items, pharmaceutical products, substandard electric cables, second-hand clothes and shoes commonly known as Caguwa, minerals and narcotic drugs.
Usalama, which means ‘safety’in Swahili, is an Interpol supported operation conducted simultaneously in all Eastern and Southern Police Chiefs Cooperation Organization (EAPCCO and SARPCCO) member states against harmful and high impact crimes.
Jean Marie Twagirayezu, the RIB Director General for Criminal Investigations (DGCI) said that the operations were conducted across the country are part of the regional efforts to fight against outlawed goods as well as counterfeit and expired products sold on the market.
“These are annual operations meant to remove illegal and harmful products from the market in which 36 people were arrested,” Twagirayezu said.
Lazare Ntirenganya, the Division Manager in Rwanda Food and Drugs Authority (Rwanda FDA) said that the impounded products were banned due to their ill-effects to health, environment and overall human security.
“FDA released a list of foods, drinks, pharmacueticals and other products that are not allowed in Rwanda which some of those allowed were either found to have expired, substandard or counterfeits brought on the market through illegal channels,” Ntirenganya said.
“There are other products like pharmaceuticals, which are sold by non professionals in unlawful places. Medical drugs can only be sold in pharmacies and other licensed health facilities.”
RNP spokesperson, Commissioner of Police (CP) John Bosco Kabera said that illicit and substandard products breach the safety standards, thus a security concern.
“People cannot be safe and secure when they are using illicit, substandard and expired goods especially medicines,” CP Kabera said.
CP Kabera warned that although this specific operation is conducted periodically, fight trafficking, smuggling and sell of illicit, substandard, counterfeit and outlawed products is part of the daily RNP operations.
“This should send a strong message to anyone poisoning residents of Rwanda. Rwanda National Police and other law enforcement and relevant entities will continue to these operations. Dealers should know that police eyes and ears are everywhere because of the ownership and responsiveness of the public, who share information on dealers,” CP Kabera warned.
Beatrice Uwumukiza, the Director General of Rwanda Inspectorate, Competition and Consumer Protection Authority (RICA) commended the collaboration between the institutions in the fight against harmful products on the market.
Uwumukiza said that awareness campaigns will also be extended to traders and customers to emphasize quality and goods allowed on the Rwandan market, to protect consumers.